Friday, December 12, 2014

New Leaf

I never thought it would happen to me. 

How many times have people thought that? We never think it will be us. "Those things" happen to other people.


I've talked about it in the past--being more sensitive with what we say and how we frame things. But I didn't know I was talking about myself. I have suspected for a while that things have not been "normal", but I didn't want to say anything until I knew what I was saying.

So far, the results of tests have done two things: cleared Adam, and required further testing on me. Further testing meant an MRI of my pituitary to determine if there is a tumor causing my {very} high prolactin levels (results [AND story!] to come).

That hole feels A LOT smaller when I'm squished inside it!
Part of the treatment my doctor has prescribed is changing what I eat, as I am also Hypothyroid and Vitamin D deficient. So, starting Monday, Adam and I will be transitioning from Take Shape for Life to Whole30.

I must confess, I wasn't really sold on Whole30, even after reading through the website. But I was curious enough to buy the book (It Starts with Food). It sat on my table for close to a week before I finally picked it up to read. And boy did I go down the rabbit hole. Read the book in a day, and was sold.

Yup. This is totes happening.
These 13 gallon garbage bags, an eight gallon bag, and one box later our pantry, spice cabinet, and fridge/freezer have been purged of all non-compliant food products. Today marks the trip to stock the pantry and fridge/freezer. Tomorrow and Sunday will be food-prep, and Monday--well, Monday is going to be the beginning of a whole new life.

There's a lot of change and uncertainty in the near future, and that's why I'm documenting here--a place to record results, ups, downs, and to be accountable.

Let it begin.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Walking to Bring Suicide Out of the Darkness

Ever wanted to help someone in need, but didn't know what to say or do? Organizations like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (ASFP) help with research, raise awareness, and reduce stigma about suicide.

On Saturday, September 27, there is an ASFP walk called Out of the Darkness. I will be walking as a participant, and representing a friend who died of suicide almost a year ago. If you would like to join as a participant, our team would love to have you! Register at Team: Cowboy Up. 

I am also looking for donations as a participant to raise awareness, increase research, and decrease stigma. If you have anything to donate, you can do so using my link. Every bit helps! And if you want to try to make more of your donation, you can see if your company is willing to do a matching gift (it's really easy to see if your company participates--just click here).

As anybody involved with research knows, it costs money to fund. As a result, the event is also looking for community support for raffle donations and participant donations (water bottles, ice, fruit, etc.).

This is a way to be part of the change. Whether you or a loved one has experienced depression, attempted suicide, lost someone to suicide, or not, it doesn't matter. What matters is what we do moving forward.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I Promote Fighting. Here's Why.

I've never been much of a runner, so when my fight or flight response is triggered it seems like a no-brainer. I stand and fight. I fight a lot of things. I used to use my fists. I've learned to use my words.

Words like the one on this bracelet. I wear it every day (literally--to bed, in the shower, swimming, it doesn't come off).

Yup. Just my everyday arm and my everyday bracelet doing our everyday thing.

It opens a door to have conversations. People ask me what I'm fighting/why I promote fighting. They're usually shocked at my response.

Four years ago I had the opportunity to meet my first Fighter. He gave me a card with something about Fight the New Drug (FTND). My curiosity was piqued. I had just begun working in addiction recovery, and wondered if pornography could actually be comparable to traditional drugs and alcohol.

Four years later I've come to my own answer.

Addiction is addiction is addiction. I don't care if its sex, drugs, food, shopping, exercise, etc. It is insidious, it is no respecter of persons, it is self-seeking, and it only quits when there is nothing else to be taken. At least, that's how it used to end.

The truth is, nobody can stop an addiction anymore than a person can stop a loved-one's cancer or diabetes. It can be easy to judge those who are addicted--to ask why they can't appreciate the lives they have, their attractive partners, promising careers, why they just can't choose to stop. 

For those who have moved beyond the "why" and into the "how", there are still unanswerable questions. There is no answer to the heart-broken family/friend/loved one who asks, "How can I fix it? How do I make them stop?" It has to be the choice of the person who has the disease to have it treated, and in most cases requires life-long monitoring/upkeep.

Every day I'm fighting--working to put myself out of a job--to help people treat addiction and to educate about prevention. Some really amazing people are doing the same. They're over at Fight the New Drug. They have non-judgmental, research-based information to help people gain understanding about Pornography. They have also developed an online program to help those who have already found themselves trapped by addiction called Fortify (click the link to apply and find other FTND materials).

And to you I say, join the movement. Become a fighter (want your own bracelet? You can buy it here along with tons of other awesome Fighter swag).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


One of three CDs for the third anniversary this year.

While I am a tenderhearted woman, I'm not very good at sentimentality. For instance, a few months ago a co-worker asked how many years Adam and I would be married on our upcoming anniversary, to which I thought (for an over-long amount of time) then responded, "I think two." Then, with her help, I realized it would actually be three years. THREE YEARS! Already? Seriously??? Where did the time go? I can remember so many things about our courtship and wedding day so vividly that much time could not possibly have passed already.

Aquarium in Vegas while dating.

Just minutes before he proposed and I was SHOCKED!

At the same time, when pressed to think about it, remembering a time before Adam feels like an alternate reality. He is such an important part of my life now I can hardly imagine life without him. He can tell you, I often have to sort through memories to determine why he can't remember the event (turns out I was 11 and he was on a mission--duh! Ok, ok, it's not that bad, but seriously...).

He can always make me laugh.

One of the things we share best.

Before getting married my sister Natasha asked me, "Why do you love him?" I wondered why it was so important for her to know, and she told me that I would come to a place when I might need to remember those things when times got hard and I maybe questioned why I did choose him. I don't remember what I said to her that day.

Shameless excuse to use engagement/wedding photos.

So I'll tell you what I've learned.

I am an outspoken, stubborn, extroverted, opinionated, lazy (it's true!), excitable, spicy woman (I would say lady, but my mother would argue with that). I love Adam because he is thoughtful, easy-going, introverted, considerate, hardworking, mellow, chill man. He is all the things I am not (except thrifty when it comes to books--neither of us are that, and both of us are ok with it). He provides grounding to my cloud-surfing ideas. And because he tethers me, this kite can soar.

Fun Fact: We didn't actually cut our cake!

Since before we were married Adam put his goals on the back-burner to follow me on crazy adventures (안녕하세요 South Korea--I'm looking at you!) and waylaid dreams of my own (yeah, no, still not going to be a teacher, still don't know what I'm supposed to do. Trust me, when I know you'll know and we'll all celebrate together, but I digress). He puts me first, he pushes me higher, and he loves me through it all--mistakes and missteps included.

Open Mic Night at the Double Decker in English Village.

I was thinking the other day how I dislike when people get all competitive over their spouses with the, "I know you all say you have the best husband, but you're dead wrong because I married him...blah, blah, blah..." I decided, instead, to recognize that I married the best husband for me.

Tuacahn's 2012 Production of Aladdin.

This last year has included some real doozies for downward slumps, and he has hugged and loved me fiercely through it all. Have you ever tried to love a strong-willed, independent, competitive, Type-A through a downturn? I'm telling you, I know I'm not easy to love in that place, but he does it and with the greatest tenderness and devotion. He is the best husband for me.

Grand Canyon Trip August 2013.

He constantly tells me he loves strong women (seriously--his sisters and mother are amazing, he loves stories with strong female characters, he listens to strong female musicians, he married me--he is truly more of a feminist than I am), but I must say, it takes an incredibly strong man to love such a woman.

SUU Gymnastics 2013.

In three years we moved to South Korea, moved back, lost a dog, adopted two more, moved apartments, have found six jobs (and kept two), had our plans for the future utterly wrecked in every way possible, fallen down, picked each other back up, and are looking forward to a bright future. I do believe, year three will be our best year yet.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Thawing Frozen Hearts...and Ideas

Disclaimer: I am not a well-behaved Mormon woman. In fact, by most standards I'm not a well-behaved woman. I believe in radical things like human rights are women's rights, that a lot of the world's issues would be resolved if we focused on improving ourselves as individuals rather than using energy to tear down others, and that what we direct our energy toward grows (positivity breeds positivity). Oh, and I'm a Frozen fangirl. *squee*

Hope I don't let you down, sis.

A few days ago a friend posted a link to a personal blog of a woman, Ms. Kathryn Skaggs, who did an in-depth analysis of Frozen. Using literary theory terms, she did what is called a "queer reading" of the "text." Allow me to begin by saying, I believe people are entitled to opinions. Conferences the nation and world over are filled with academics putting works old and new through the lenses of theories to find new meaning in them. It is my opinion that this particular woman fell into a trap of persuasive fallacy. That trap is one of single-meaning reading in artistic creativity. In other words, that a creative piece can only be interpreted one way.

The beauty and joy of film and stage, when done well, is that it allows the audience to experience a catharsis. People are able to participate in a willing suspension of disbelief which allows them to accept that giant robots really can fight enormous aliens that come from under the ocean (did I mention I'm also a Pacific Rim fangirl? *double squee*), or that two sisters can discover that love is, in fact, the key. We crave being taken along on a journey, becoming part of relationships, crying when the main characters experience loss, laughing when they find joy, and applauding when they succeed. Very few things in the world can do that.

In general, people respond differently to the same things. For instance, my husband is enamored with all things Jim Henson, and really loves Labyrinth (yes, David Bowie in his wild hair and crazy cod-piece glory). I cannot stand the movie. Detest it. I encourage him to watch it whenever I'm not in town so I don't have to see it. I believe this is in part due to the fact that I was 28 years old upon first viewing a film meant for children in the 80s (I think the Barney Stinson theory of age applies to this like it did with Star Wars and the Ewoks). My point is, I firmly believe we are entitled to our different interpretations.

Here is where I differ.

People are entitled to different interpretations, but I do not believe that we--as people who are working on making the world a better place (for some, trying to be more Christlike)--ought to promulgate, support, share, or participate in hate-speech or any thing which debases, lowers, degrades, or others human beings in any way.

When I strip away all of the analysis of Frozen from the other blog, what I choose to see is a woman encouraging people to filter what content to which their children are exposed. I support that. She and I may have different standards regarding what is or is not appropriate, but I do believe it is the responsibility of parents to be proactive in ensuring children view age-appropriate content, and have meaningful conversations about things they may (and, let's be honest, will) be exposed to outside the home or parents purview (i.e., school, friends, public places, etc.).

Perhaps it is because of the explosion of popularity that Ms. Skaggs has chosen to single out Frozen for it's so-called "liberal agenda." My suggestion is that we put more of what our children consume under a microscope: Curious George is more than a cute monkey--have you ever noticed how he suffers no consequences for his, sometimes quite seriously damaging exploits? What kind of message does that send to children? Plenty has been said about other Disney films and how they teach our daughters that they must change everything about themselves to be worthy of a one-true-love (a concept I abhor, btw). But what about how the men in Disney films are portrayed as, well, idiot-heroes? And that if they complete a quest, even unintentionally, they are entitled to be given a beautiful (and talented and wealthy and usually royal) woman as reward for "being a good guy"? What is THAT teaching our children? I could go on, but that's a post (or two or three) for another day.

One more thing.

At one point Ms. Skaggs did a close readying of the lyrics of Frozen's, arguably, most popular song "Let it Go" (I mean, seriously, how many best cover EVERs can there be?). In it she highlighted what she felt were the lyrics supporting her "queer reading" of the film. Afterward she stated, "The words to "Let it Go" are clearly not Christian-values friendly, by any stretch of the imagination, when understood and heard. This is not an innocent song, with a catchy tune. It is rebellious. It mocks moral absolutes. It is careless. It is unaccountable. It is anti-obedience. It is regardless. It is selfish. And if you still disagree, then by all means, feel free to show me how I've misinterpreted the lyrics (underline and italics added for emphasis)

I feel this is perhaps the most egregious statement Ms. Skaggs makes in the post. As a student of English and Communications I have been taught to seek out multiple meanings. I learned from poet and professor, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, that artistic language is like a galaxy. Anyone can draw a grouping of stars (series of lines or phrases) together to create a whole sky full of constellations (meanings or interpretations). None are right and none are wrong so long as they are founded in the text. While I may not appreciate her interpretation, I deign not to state it was wrong anymore than I believe mine to be more-correct. What I do find fault in is her statement that any disagreement with her interpretation is incorrect. Ms. Skaggs, I must protest.

People seeing things differently does not mean either is right or wrong. Different is merely, beautifully, wonderfully different. Please don't white-wash the delightful colors that make this world such a glorious place out for the sake of needing to be right. In all honesty I am reminded of Flowers are Red by Harry Chapin (lyrics here). It hearkens to the teacher who insists, "Flowers are red, young man/Green leaves are green/There's no need to see flowers any other way/Than the way they always have been seen" when a little boy is seen painting with all colors of the palette. Another literary character this resonates with is Menolly from the Dragon Song series by Anne McCaffrey who is hidden away and punished by her parents because it is thought her singing will disgrace her community since she is a girl, and that is a man's occupation.

My final take on Frozen.

Ms. Skaggs, even if you are right--even if Frozen revolved around promoting what you code the "gay agenda" may I ask what is so bad with people wanting to be accepted for who they are? What is so wrong about showing parents that forcing their children to hide their differences, the things that make them unique, rather than exploring and developing their talents and gifts harms them and the rest of the family? Or that when we ostracize people for being different it hurts the individual, the family, and the community? Would it be so bad to teach our children to love people not in spite of but because of their differences? Love is, after-all, the key.

I may not be a very good woman or a well-behaved Mormon, but I do recall the Plan of Salvation and Atonement being very strongly associated with unconditional, eternal love. It is embraced in that love that all children flourish. May we show a little more love. OK, a lot more love. I said in the beginning, I believe positivity begets positivity. So it would follow that love also begets love. Perhaps we could interpret Frozen through that lens.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Unknown Road

The above image depicts my life right now. The road is moving quickly beneath me, I can only see exactly where I'm at, and everything around is shrouded in darkness and fog renders the distance unclear.

People don't generally respond kindly when you answer their question, "Why did you quit (insert activity here--whether it be school, work, a pastime, behavior, or what-have-you)?" honestly with, "Because God told me not to."

Ok. That's oversimplifying the case.

But how do I get into the depth of my divine intuition and connection which guides my life--which I seek and strive for daily--to ensure that I'm living the kind of life I want to live across simply and clearly?

I'm not saying that everybody has to get on the path to Jesus (it's not a bad path, I'm not naysaying either), or that they have to be in order to get where I'm coming from. Can I just say, "It's not what I was meant to do." And leave it at that? I only wish. That leaves me open for the onslaught of questions, "Why not?" "How did you come to that conclusion?" "Did something cause this?" Or, my even less-favorite: the directives and thinly-veiled doubts. "You're so good at it, just do it anyway." "Someone with your talent can't quit. Maybe you were wrong."

Here's where it comes down to for me: I fully respect everyone else's right to not believe in God, to not believe that He speaks, and that our lives are not directed/protected/enhanced by any Higher Power of any kind. I unequivocally concede that. I merely ask the same courtesy be extended to me. I do believe. I also believe I have a close, personal relationship with my Heavenly Father, and I believe that He watches over and gives me direction when I need it and as I seek it.

So when you find out I quit the teacher education program with only student teaching left to finish, and all you want to do is ask me, "WHY?!" My answer is simply this: I wasn't meant to do it. And when you want to follow up with, "So what are you going to do instead?" I'll probably shrug and whisper, "I have no idea. I only know what I'm not supposed to do. And I know I'm not supposed to student teach."

Because you see, the funny thing about being a woman of faith is that I don't get all the answers at once. I get one piece of a very large puzzle. I don't know where it goes, I don't know how it will fit in. I only know that I have it, and that it will go somewhere, and that it will all eventually fit together, and somewhere down the road I will look back and say, "That's why. That's why."

It also means I don't drive forward looking into the rearview mirror wondering "Whatif...?" or musing on when the course changed from what I thought was supposed to happen. I get to turn my gaze completely forward.

So for now, I speed into the unknown future. I do not doubt. I do not fear. The road is not unknown, it is simply unknown to me.